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Catholic faith, public witness and religious freedom in a changing public square

Image Books, a division of Random House publishing, has announced the release of an original new eBook authored by Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America, will be available electronically on March 27, 2012. The eBook - an extended essay on the role of religious faith in American public life today -contrasts current pressures against religious liberty in the United States with the vigorous role this freedom played in founding and forming the nation. 

A new and authentically Catholic activism in public affairs is urgent, writes the Archbishop, "as the mistakes and ambiguities of the past half-century of American Catholic experience come to harvest. Our national leadership in 2012 seems deaf to matters of religious freedom abroad and unreceptive -- or frankly hostile -- to religious engagement in public affairs here at home." 

A Heart on Fire, initially drafted in the fall of 2011, is even timelier now with the imposition of the current administration's HHS mandate -- an action the Archbishop considers "coercive and deeply troubling in its implications for the rights of conscience." On January 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed a rule that virtually all private health care plans must cover sterilization, abortion-causing drugs, and contraception. The exemption provided for "religious employers" is so narrow that it failed to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations-including Catholic hospitals, universities, and charities-that help millions of people every year regardless of their faith. 

Archbishop Chaput is the author previously of Living the Catholic Faith: Rediscovering the Basics(Servant) and Image Books' best-selling Render Unto Caesar, along with numerous articles, reflections, essays and talks. He writes a weekly web column at


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